Victoria’s largest region, Gippsland boasts vast, striking landscapes and some of Australia’s most spectacular national parks, lakes and waterways. Nature lovers will appreciate the remote wilderness with activities including walking, cycling, swimming, surfing and skiing. Less active visitors will enjoy relaxing in the coastal villages, perusing the local artwork in country galleries, indulging in local produce and sampling local brews and fine wines. With a rich history and ancient Indigenous heritage, there is something for everyone in Gippsland.
The Festival will host two incredible Regional World's Longest Lunches in Gippsland on Friday 4 March 2016.
Take a seat at a 91 metre table along the iconic National Trust trestle bridge at RWLL Kilcunda Bridge and indulge in a Spanish menu inspired by local seafood. Or alternatively, enjoy a five-course Gippsland food and wine experience at RWLL Bass Coast along the spectacular and unspoilt coastline.
Here are some ideas on how to make the most of a weekend away:
A nod to the golden days
On departing Melbourne, make the first stop Walhalla. Once one of Australia’s richest towns, thanks to the discovery of gold in 1863, Walhalla is now a small village with much history to explore, against a lush bush setting. A mine tour and historic train ride are musts while here, and the Star Hotel will remedy rumbling tummies.
Narkoojee Winery, a hidden treasure of the Gippsland wine region is just an hour from Walhalla, and the perfect mid-journey stop on the way to Metung – another hour north east. A little south lies Toms Cap, a boutique vineyard surrounded by the forests of the Strezlecki Ranges, the ninety-mile beach at Woodside and the natural flora and fauna of Tarra Bulga National Park. A great option for a mid-journey stop on either the outward or return trip.
A charming maritime village
Set in the heart of the Gippsland Lakes, Metung offers boat trips, fishing and a relaxed lifestyle. Bancroft Bites is a top choice for lunch, and the Metung Hotel, right on the water, is ideal for dinner. The Moorings is the only waterfront resort on Australia's largest inland lake system, the Gippsland Lakes, and a night here is highly recommended.
Cultural trails and scenic drives are top options in Bairnsdale- a laid-back country town just half an hour from Metung. It makes an ideal base for exploring the vast Gippsland Lakes, Mitchell River and surrounding forests.
A bird’s eye view
A helicopter ride is the best way to see the area, and a 15 minute flight over the Gippsland Lakes offers views across Bass Strait and 90 Mile Beach. Gippsland Helicopters also operates flights over Mitchell River National Park, Alpine National Park and Mt Baw Baw.
Just 15 minutes from Bairnsdale is Paynesville, a seaside town with (free) ferries departing daily to Raymond Island, home to an abundance of koalas. A 1.5km trail enables visitors to view the koalas easily, and Ride the Koalas cares for sick and injured koalas and raises orphaned kangaroo joeys.
Nature lovers will love Gippsland for its abundance of untouched wilderness and many national parks. Wilson’s Promontory is a Victorian favourite, and easily accessible from Melbourne. North east, Croajingolong National Park will reward the adventurous with its pristine beaches and plentiful walks. Inland, the alpine village of Mt Baw Baw has plenty to offer in both the green and snow season.
For more information see http://gippslandroadtrip.com.au/ or http://www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/Gippsland.aspx
Meet the roasters, baristas & farmers behind the coffee in your cup
Kodama Coffee, Williamstown
Whole hog served Tex-Mex style in a West Footscray block party
Harley and Rose, West Footscray
Pizzini pop-up cellar door with barrel tastings plus fabulous salumi bar
Project Forty Nine, Collingwood
Founder of the The Perennial and Mission Chinese in San Francisco with a Zero Foodprint vision
House of Food and Wine - Hotel, Melbourne